I am really mystified by this whole federal income tax thing. And the older I get, the more mystified I get – and that has nothing to do with the fact that the tax code is comprised of 3.4 million words that are compressed into 60 lines on each of its 7,500 pages and is written in a language that may be understood by the Klingons or the Arkalians, but it's certainly not anything close to English. Read it
for yourself if it's not already on your night stand. For years, I blithely allowed federal and state taxes to be deducted from my paycheck every week and then settled up yearly accounts with the feds every April 15 like a good and dutiful citizen. What a sap I've been.
Not long ago, I received a link to a YouTube video in which Senate majority leader Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat, flatly declares that federal income taxes are voluntary. Check out his tax seminar for the uninformed right
. It's four minutes, 31 seconds of absolute Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland Jabberwocky. (On the left is a photo of Harry saluting the American taxpayers). After watching that video and hearing Reid's words, I figured I would forgo paying my 2008 taxes. After all, Reid is one of the people responsible for making the laws, so he should know what the laws mean, should he not? If Harry Reid says taxes are voluntary, that's good enough for me.
Shortly after I saw that video, more evidence came to light that paying federal income taxes must be a voluntary thing. Tim Geithner (right), Barack Obama's choice to be head of the Treasury Department, which oversees the Internal Revenue Service, volunteered to not pay $34,000 in taxes he owed. Geitner worked in the Treasury Department years ago, and then went to Wall Street before being picked by Obama. So, if anyone knows about the tax system, he should. And if he volunteers not to pay his federal taxes, that must mean the system is, as Harry Reid said, voluntary.
Tom Daschle (left), the former South Dakota senator picked by Obama to be the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, was on the Finance Committee in Congress. Surely he knows whether income taxes are voluntary or not. When he voluntarily did not pay about $140,000 in taxes on his income (it may be more; the feds are still trying to sort that out), I was even more convinced that we have a voluntary system of tax payments. Then there was Nancy Killefer, picked by Obama to be something called the Chief Performance Officer. She apparently also was listening to Harry Reid about that whole voluntary/mandatory thing when it came to federal income taxes. She decided not to pay a bunch of taxes, and it must have been because Harry said she did not have to. More recently, it was revealed that Reid apparently has been conducting tax seminars for members of the Georgia General Assembly. The seminars do not seem to have been particularly effective, though, because only about 10 percent of the members got the message that taxes are voluntary. Most of those boys are products of the Georgia public school system, however, and they ain't all that bright (I've seen them in action and heard them, so I know of what I write). It may take a few more lessons until all of them are on the same page with that voluntary tax thing. I figure with Harry's expertise guiding them, we should have 75-80 percent of them believing taxes are voluntary within a couple of years. What's mystifying to me is this: Despite Harry Reid's assurances and despite all the evidence I'm seeing that justifies his belief that federal income taxes are voluntary, there are some folks in government who do not realize that. The most truculent of these non-believers are the wonderful, kind, smiling folks at the IRS and various U.S. attorneys around the country. The Gainesville (Ga.) Times recently reported that a man named Daniel Edward Turner, who must have taken lessons on the tax system from Harry Reid, recently was convicted in that North Georgia city of "obstructing the IRS" by not paying his taxes. You can see the story
. What is most interesting about this story is the statements of those who investigated and prosecuted Turner. Reginael D. McDaniel, whom the newspaper identified as a criminal investigation agent with the IRS, was quoted as saying, "The law is crystal clear: People must pay their taxes. There is no gray area on this issue." And U.S. Attorney David Nahmias issued a statement that said that "Everyone must pay their taxes, regardless of whether they agree with the tax laws." OK, guys, which is it? The IRS and the legal guys say paying taxes is not voluntary; you have to do it or go to jail. But Harry Reid says the system is voluntary. You guys need to get together and work this out. Until they do that, I have some possible answers about what's going on here. The current federal income tax system is voluntary if: (1) You are an elected politician. (2) You are a former elected politician. (3) You are a wannabe elected politician. (4) You are a FOO (Friend Of Obama). Of course, if Harry Reid is wrong about this whole voluntary/mandatory tax thing, he's going to end up looking even dumber than he does now. And that would make the people of Nevada who voted for him, what? Even dumber than that? It's tough to be that dumb and still have enough sense to breathe. As for me, I'm rooting for Harry to be right. Nobody can be that dumb, can they? To be on the safe side, though, and to keep the IRS and the U.S. attorney's office off my butt, I think I'll settle up with the feds on April 15 as I always do. What we need is a simpler, fairer system. Perhaps something like